Readers make suggestions on how to improve the signs on D.C.’s Metro system

John Kelly
Columnist February 24

Signs are important. A road that’s missing its “One Way” sign is dangerous. So is a house missing its “Beware of Dog” sign.

Supposedly, the Apocalypse will be heralded by seven signs. If you see just six signs, it’s not the Apocalypse, just a really, really bad day: plaguey with a chance of blood oceans.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

I recently wrote about the confusing signs at the two Twinbrook Metro Kiss & Rides and how they threatened to drive a wedge between My Lovely Wife and me. I invited readers to weigh in on other areas in need of Metro’s attention.

Apparently, Twinbrook isn’t the only accursed station. “If you and your spouse had met at the Rockville Metro station, you would have had the exact same problem,” wrote Chas Hausheer, president of the East Rockville Civic Association. “As part of our neighborhood civic association over the last thirty years, we have had several high-level meetings on-site at our station and had many, many promises to ‘look into’ the signage issue which, as we have learned, is Metro-speak for we aren’t going to change a thing.”

A similar issue exists at the Shady Grove station. It’s made worse there by how difficult it is for drivers to get from one side of the station to the other. Gaithersburg’s Pat White once went to pick up her son at Shady Grove. “Not only was I at the wrong park and ride, I couldn’t figure out how to drive from the east side to the west side without going all the way back to Shady Grove Road, driving about a mile to Route 355, driving south on 355 another mile, and then turning east to Metro,” she wrote.


A passenger information display sign inside the U Street Metro station is tilted to face passengers exiting the station. Should it face passengers entering the station? (John Kelly/The Washington Post)

Steven Herrmann of Ashburn has a different gripe. It’s about inadequate signage at the West Falls Church station. “It is so easy to drive into the station via the bus/taxi entrance as opposed to the passenger drop-off/pick-up entrance,” he wrote. His son-in-law recently got a moving violation ticket for making that mistake.

Now let’s make our way from outside the stations to inside the stations. Gregory Tepe of the District is curious about a quirk at the U Street Metro station. He writes: “Why, at the 13th Street entrance of the U Street Metro station, is the information board showing the next incoming trains facing the passengers as they leave the station, instead of facing the passengers as they enter the station?”

Silver Spring’s Mike Marceau thinks the signs at the Columbia Heights exit are confusing. One sign points to “Mt. Pleasant,” another to “Pleasant Plains.” Mike wrote: “Signs should list the nearest intersection instead of a neighborhood or area of town.”

In Metro’s defense, there are other signs that point toward northbound and southbound 14th Street, but they aren’t the first signs that exiting passengers encounter.

Ted Mastroianni of the District wishes the Metro system maps inside the cars were better positioned. “Each car has a map located above a seat that would be impossible to read if the car was occupied or the car was crowded,” he wrote. “It forces you to lean over seated riders’ heads to read the small print obscured map.”

My problem with the maps is how many of them are microscopic, dwarfed by the large posters outlining emergency evacuation instructions.

Nancy McGuire of Silver Spring spoke for many readers when she suggested that Metro have compass points marked outside the stations. “It would be very simple and relatively inexpensive to print decals with arrows and the words ‘North,’ ‘South,’ ‘East’ and ‘West’ to apply to the brown pillars outside every Metro station,” she wrote. “I have lived in this area almost 15 years, and if I’m exiting at a stop that I don’t use often, I still have to orient myself by the position of the sun or by walking a half block in the wrong direction.”

Or we could carry compasses.

I asked Metro to respond. Spokesman Dan Stessel said Metro’s engineering staff would assess the U Street PID — that’s the “passenger information display” — to see whether it could be shifted to face incoming passengers as opposed to outgoing ones.

Dan said the signage team would look into labeling the Kiss & Rides. I think the ones at Twinbrook, Rockville and Shady Grove should be easy to do: Just add “East” and “West” to signs inside and outside the stations.

And Dan promised that suggestions sent to Metro’s feedback line — wmata.com/contactus — would be routed to the appropriate group.

SECTION: {section=local, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=local, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read Local